Tomorrow I will be graduating from the outpatient Partial Hospital Program (PHP). It’s otherwise known as discharge day, but graduation day sounds so much better, don’t you think?
In case you haven’t seen my previous posts, the PHP is a program for those suffering from severe depression and anxiety. The first two weeks are full-time, the third week is three days and the fourth week is two days. My last week is also two days, so I guess it’s technically a five-week program. It kind of depends on the schedule they give you – you have to attend 17 days to graduate.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to take part in this program. I’m thankful to God for His protection over me when I was in my darkest days. I’m thankful to my husband, sisters, brothers and other family and friends who have been so supportive and encouraging. I’m thankful for those who have helped us financially, which allowed me to participate in all 17 days of the program. I’m thankful for the counselors, nurses, doctors and friends I have met through the PHP.
*Edited* I forgot to mention my gratefulness to my employer, The Good Samaritan Society, and my amazing co-workers. Their compassion and support these past months has been amazing!
I’m thankful for healing and hope renewed.
Depression is not only a hard thing to talk about, it’s hard to wrap your brain around the fact that it’s a daily struggle. It won’t always be a struggle, but it’s something that I will always have to work at. It’s something that I will always have to surrender to the Lord and be mindful of.
I remember when Mom shared her story of being healed from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and a whole list of other mental ailments. God did heal her, but it continued to be a daily battle for her as she healed. She had to cling to Jesus every single day and constantly remind herself of what was true. And she really wasn’t completely healed until Jesus welcomed her into heaven on June 9th, 2012.
So how do I work at it? First of all, finding healing from depression isn’t a cookie cutter process. But this is what has helped me.
1. God’s Word. Spending time in God’s Word every day. Being a part of a women’s Bible study. Filling my mind with truth. I was given a resource that has been so helpful – it’s a list of lies I might tell myself, what God says about me in response to those lies and scripture references. I refer to often.
2. Music. Music has always been healing to me. Singing, listening to music, attempting to play Mom’s guitar. I stopped doing a lot of this the past six months, for many reasons that I’m still working through, however having that back in my life has been amazing. When I start to think distorted thoughts or start to feel myself descend into the pit, I will turn on my music and it uplifts me and gets me back on track.
3. Coloring. I color a lot. Pat thinks I weird. The kids think I’m awesome. It’s very soothing and relaxing for me though. Instead of turning on some crappy show on television, I’ve tried to spend more time listening to music and coloring. (Yes, I still watch television, I’m just trying to be more aware of what I watch.)
4. Breathing. Well that’s obvious, right? But this is like really breathing. I’ve learned how to breathe deeply and really focus on my breathing, especially in times of stress or overwhelmtion. It’s amazing how much that has helped. Every morning I go outside to let Molly out and I spend time just breathing and listening.
5. Listening. Again, seems a little obvious, right? This one I got from my sister. When I am feeling anxious I will close my eyes and just listen. I will stop my mind from going a hundred miles a minute and listen closely to everything around me. It’s very soothing and helps me get focused.
6. Writing. As you may know if you’ve followed my blog, I stopped writing last summer. Or I didn’t write as often. Writing has always been an outlet for me to process what has been going on. I think it was very detrimental to my mental health when I stopped. Through the PHP and God’s help I’ve been able to start writing again and I’m very thankful!
7. Positive affirmations. This one has been hard for me. As a Christian my focus has always been loving others, serving others, giving to others… and I am supposed to be last. This is true, however it shouldn’t affect the way I see myself… I am unique, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am strong in Christ, I am loving, etc. One of my favorites and one that I would say over and over again, especially in the beginning, is “In this moment, I am OK.” It really was a moment by moment struggle in the beginning, and eventually I began to believe the things I was saying to myself.
*Edited*8. Exercise and eating well…still working on this one but I know it’s so important!
There are other coping skills and tools I’ve learned and re-learned the past four weeks. But those are the main ones I rely on – at least today.
It’s a little bit scary graduating tomorrow. I’m excited, but at the same time I’ve received such support and encouragement from the group. I’ve learned so much and I will miss that. But I also know that I’m ready to get back to “real life” and to start actually living my life again.
Thank you for the impact you have had on my life. I know many of you have prayed for me and our family and it means so much.
And last, but certainly not least, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety or thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please reach out for help. Call someone or if there is no one to call, email me. There is help out there!
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs – a song I have listened to probably a thousand times the past four weeks. In the first week or two I literally listened to it all day when I wasn’t in group.
I need my sweet Lord’s help today.
My sweet Lord, desperately
I am alone, and afraid to be
My love is gone, So far away
I need my sweet Lord’s help today
Let Your love shine down on me
And light the way to be
Oh and these are the words that I pray
I need my sweet Lord’s help today
Blind is the fool, I see that now
I broke the rules, and let you down
I walked alone, Now I have run dry
I need my sweet Lord’s help tonight